The International Stadiums Poker Tour (ISPT) isn’t your traditional poker tour. It’s not a tour at all, in fact, but a single, massive poker tournament set to take place in one of the world’s largest and most famous stadiums. With nearly a full year to go before the first annual ISPT takes place, they are heavily promoting the event by signing sponsorship deals with some of the best known faces of poker, including Patrik Antonius, David Benyamine, Sam Trickett, Liz Lieu and Michael Mizrachi.
The most recent signature came from French poker pro David Benyamine on Tuesday. Benyamine has been playing poker for many years now, but didn’t make a name for himself until 2003 when he won €350k for taking down the WPT Grand Prix de Paris. He solidified his skills in 2008 when he earned his first WSOP bracelet in a $10,000 Omaha Hi/Low Split Championship, followed by two more final table appearances in the WSOP that same year.
Just days prior, the phenomenal live and online poker pro Patrik Antonius signed the same contract to sponsor the ISPT. Hailing from Finland, Antonius is a fierce competitor who has earned 3.5 million playing in major live poker tournaments, and millions more in the online poker realm.
Benyamine and Antonius join the celebrated crew of Liz Lieu, Michael Mizrachi and Sam Trickett. The USA’s dazzling Ms. Lieu is best known for her beauty, as well as the card skills that earned her two wins at the WPT LA Classic in 2006 and 2007. Another American poker pro, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, is easily defined by his nickname, grinding he felt on his way to over $13 million in live tournament wins that include 2 WSOP bracelets. Englishman Sam Trickett is another card playing elite, best known for winning last year’s Partouche Poker Tour and taking down over $10 million for second place in the WSOP’s Big One for One drop in July 2012.
The very first ISPT is destined for May of 2013, scheduled to last 7 days, start to finish, at the famed Wimbley Stadium in London, England. The immense poker tournament expects to seat an estimated 30,000 players. The first two days will see the entire field seated in the stadium at monitors to compete in the tournament in a live, online setting, followed by genuine live table action over the final five days.
In an interesting turn of events, a prize pool that originated at €30,000,000 has since dropped to €20,000,000, and where it was once “guaranteed” at €20M, all mention of the term “guaranteed” has since disappeared from the ISPT website and relative advertisements. This is likely related to the recent incident where the Partouche Poker Tour originally guaranteed €5 million, then denied the guaranteed status of the prize pool. The result was complete closure of the PPT, although series owner Patrick Partouche did finally honor the €5 guaranteed prize pool.
Similar to the PPT debacle, the ISPT’s Laurent Tapie stated in a press conference last June, “We hope to gather 30,000 players in the first year. The guaranteed prize pool is €20 million, the biggest prize pool ever guaranteed in poker history.”
If events swing in the same direction as they did with the PPT, it looks like the ISPT is going to have to honor its statements and reinstate the “guaranteed” €20,000,000 prize pool next year at Wimbley.